The Swedish architects Lars Karud and Niklas Olsson have a solid track record in designing homes and care facilities for people with physical limitations – and they are on a constant mission to enable residents and caregivers to move more freely.
“You shouldn’t have to be restricted by physical limitations. A well-designed environment gives possibilities instead of presenting obstacles; enabling you to move around like any able-bodied person,” Lars says.
Focusing on caregivers the challenge is to create enough space for an ergonomic working environment, counteracting heavy lifting and unhealthy movements.
Niklas explains, “There are examples of how thoughtless cost savings in the building process are eaten up rapidly by the increased operational costs when the result is an inefficient workplace.”
"Liberating space, enabling a single caregiver with the right equipment to work without ergonomic challenges, improves efficiency and helps avoid injuries."
For Lars and Niklas, Arjo’s Guide for Architects and Planners has been a useful tool in the quest for those extra centimeters that make the difference between an easy or constrained move.
“In times when planners are keen to make areas smaller, it is good to be able to show them what it takes to enable someone to stay in their apartment, when they also need a carer and mobility equipment to get by,” Lars says.
Zooming in on care facilities, architects also focus on other factors that create a dignified and peaceful environment, such as daylight, colors, smells and familiar things.
"A care home should feel like a real home, with room for personal items that bring back fond memories, maybe that dear old chest of drawers."
One of the architects’ ideas is an 8-shaped care home ward around two courtyards; enabling people with dementia to walk around freely without encountering any agitating dead ends.
“Courtyard views and common areas along the way enable peaceful movement without unnecessary moments of friction,” Niklas concludes.